Wildcat Dancesport has been waltzing around as the official ballroom dance club at the University of Arizona for over 20 years and serves as one of the university’s most unique way of making friends, according to club president Brenna Hall.
The club held its most recent showcase on Feb. 1, where dancers got the chance to show off their skills to everyone in attendance and hoped to gain some more attention from students who may want to join.
“Ballroom is inherently a social dance; you have to dance with other people,” Hall said. “You get a chance to meet a lot of different, fun people who are all interested in the same thing.”
Hall has been in the club for five years. She graduated from the UA with a bachelor’s degree in ecology and evolutionary biology and is currently studying for her master’s degree in epidemiology at the UA.
Hall said that she became interested in the club because of her interest in dance and desire to be more social and meet new people.
“Sometimes in college things get really busy, so it’s a great way to be both active and social,” Hall said. “It’s also a good way to take a break from studying for a bit.”
Wildcat Dancesport focuses on two genres of ballroom dance: American Smooth, which includes the waltz, tango, foxtrot and Viennese waltz, and international Latin, which consists of the cha cha, rumba, paso doble, samba and jive.
The club has two different levels of dancers: beginners, and intermediate and advanced. Beginners are taught lessons by the more experienced dancers in the intermediate and advanced level, while dancers in the intermediate and advanced level are taught by a professional instructor.
“We welcome everyone from any level of experience,” Hall said. “Whether they have danced ballroom before or even if they’ve never danced a day in their life.”
The club is not exclusive to current students. Some members, like Athena Simmons, are alumni that just couldn’t step off the dance floor after college.
Simmons has been a member of Wildcat Dancesport for 10 years now. She graduated from the UA in 2015 with a degree in psychology and now works at a physical therapy office. Simmons said that since non-students are able to be in the club, she has been able to remain a member.
“I love this club with all my heart for a reason, I just wanna see it prosper,” Simmons said. “It’s been a part of my life for these past 10 years and I’ve enjoyed every moment of it.”
Simmons said that although she has been in the club for many years, she is still constantly learning and working hard.
“There’s always something to improve upon,” Simmons said. “Dance teaches you how to persevere. You definitely learn about yourself.”
UA junior Jessica Guise, a physiology major, has been a member of the club for two years. According to Guise, she truly began dancing through the club. She said her mother is a ballroom dance teacher and encouraged her to join while in college.
As a freshman, Guise said she was “lonely and not very outgoing.” But through Wildcat Dancesport, she met new friends.
She found “getting to be more social in college and actually being involved in something” refreshing. According to Guise, the club serves as a creative outlet for a lot of science, technology, engineering and math majors like herself who might have otherwise struggled to find one.
“It feels really great to have a connection with another person when you dance,” Guise said. “I think you can express your creativity, meet new friends and find a new passion.”
According to Hall, the club holds weekly practices, dance socials and about three competitions per year.
All dance lessons take place at the Student Recreation Center, so all attendants must have a Rec Center membership. The beginners lessons take place in the Multi-Activity Court at the Rec Center on Sundays from 10 - 11 a.m. Intermediate and advanced lessons take place Mondays in room A from 8 - 10 p.m. The beginner review lessons take place Wednesdays from 8 to 10 p.m., and open dance sessions occur every Monday from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. and Wednesday from 9 - 10 p.m.
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